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Black Desert Online covers all the expected bases

Black Desert Online is the most surprising game I’ve played in a while. From a distance, the game seems as if it will be very ‘samey’ - only the latest, if prettiest, iteration of the same old grind-and-gear gameplay any seasoned MMO player has experienced by now. But get up close and Black Desert Online (hereafter BDO) tears that mask off and reveals its true face: this here’s a sandbox game, ladies and gentlemen! A sandbox game filled with industry and crafting, trade routes and customization.


Novelty and new ideas! All in a Guild Wars 2 styled package that swaps a monthly fee for a one-time box purchase, plus a cash shop. If you’re looking for a new MMO to conquer but want something with an abundance of beauty and depth, BDO is a game to check out. MMOs thrive on quest density, and suffer due to how repetitive the game has to be to manage this. Mobs of enemies fill the map and these games start to become stale when you’ve killed the same cluster of bears in several different areas. It’s a persistent problem that eventually crops up with any game of its kind.


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There is no option to change a character’s gender, which is one of the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in an MMO. I’ve played Beast Tamer to max level, and its so freaking awesome. The problem? I’m one of the people who actually likes playing his OWN GENDER when he makes his character. There’s no reason a woman can’t be a Berserker or a warrior? Why cant a beast tamer be a guy? Its not like only women can connect with animals (or rather, the one beast you can control).


If I want to play a class, and my own gender, I should be able to. If you’re not gonna let me, at least give me a reason. That befuddlement extends to aspects of Black Desert Online beyond the story, although working around them isn't too difficult. Even with the inclusion of built-in tutorial videos, very little in Black Desert Online apart from combat is explained well, thus leading to frequent trips out of the game to learn about the specifics of things like horse breeding or farming on forums or wikis.


Add to that a very robust housing feature that also ties in with crafting and trading (you can purchase workshops and warehouses), a complex weather system that actually impacts gameplay, and a multitude of overlay mechanics that seem to want to simulate “life” in a medieval world more than simply a slug fest against monsters, and you have a package that is hard to pass on, if anything for the way it tries to break the moldy mold (yes, I know that this is the lamest pun you’ll hear today) of the genre.


Fortunately, since Black Desert Online was in beta for months and has been out in Korea for a couple of years, these resources are numerous. Folks in chat are even helpful, provided you can see their responses past the barrage of gold seller spam. Until then, prospective players can download the title's free standalone character creator, which allows users to import their handiwork into the main game and upcoming second beta test.


Make no mistake, Black Desert Online looks incredible. For some players, that may be enough, but anyone looking for real innovation on the MMO formula will probably be disappointed; Black Desert Online covers all the expected bases but doesn’t take the genre anywhere new, or at least the little slice of the game that I played doesn’t. But gosh, it looks really good.